Chief U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois said the addition of two new judges -- should the U.S. Senate confirm -- will help fill a void in a courthouse that's been there since last year when the courthouse was down three federal judges.
"This is wonderful that these two people have been nominated," Chief U.S. District Judge James Holderman said of Andrea Wood and Sara Lee Ellis -- both of whom President Obama announced he tapped for appointment. Should they be seated, one judicial vacancy will remain in the U.S. District Courthouse that has seen the high-profile criminal trials of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and others.
In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Holderman, who will cap his seven-year stint at the helm of the courthouse, hinted he may move on when his term is up July 1 this year.
"I will have done 7 years as the chief judge as the northern district of Illinois and I'm looking forward to new challenges after I complete my term," Holderman said. When asked if that meant he would move on outside the courthouse, he said: "I haven't decided yet."
U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo is in line to take the chief judge position when Holderman's term is up.
Holderman had once feared furloughs would be necessary in the federal courthouse -- with a possible plan to close once a week -- as the sequester budget issues continue in Washington.
This week, Holderman said no furloughs were planned at least under his management.
However, the U.S. Probation Department plans to begin furloughs soon, he said.
"No, we have worked efficiently - there will be no furloughs during the period that I am Chief Judge. I made that commitment to the staff. Ruben Castillo and I have worked diligently so there are no furloughs during this fiscal year," he said.
The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.